May 25, 2005 - Mast General Store, a unique
retail destination, will open its first Tennessee store in a historic
building in downtown Knoxville, Mayor Bill Haslam and Mast Store president
John Cooper announced today.
"Mast offers a distinctive shopping experience that will draw
people from across the Southeast to downtown Knoxville - there's
simply nothing else like it," Mayor Haslam said. "We could not have
found an anchor retailer that's a better fit with our downtown and
who respects and enjoys their histories more than Mast General Store.
is a great corporate citizen and we look forward to welcoming them
to our community," the Mayor stated.
Cooper noted that the company's stores are all located in the
downtowns of their respective communities.
"We have seen a vast and growing trend to recapture the spirit
of downtowns across the nation," he said. "There is a
great deal of pride in Knoxville's downtown, and for good reason.
With the $25 million restoration of the Historic Tennessee Theatre,
the revitalization of Market Square, the construction of a multi-screen
theater, and many additional projects, Knoxville is on the move.
"We're proud to be a part of that strong move to an even more
vibrant and viable downtown for shopping, dining, entertainment
and livability," Cooper said.
Mast plans to purchase the building at 402 S. Gay Street, and open
in August 2006.
The 20,000-square-foot store will offer an eclectic mix of merchandise
including old-time goods for hearth and home, traditional and outdoor
clothing and gear, rugged and casual footwear and more than 500
old-fashioned candy favorites. Mast Stores also serve as sites for
book signings, craft demonstrations and seminars.
Mast General Store is based in Valle Crucis, N.C. where it traces
its roots to 1883 as the Taylor Store. John and Faye Cooper purchased
the store in 1979, and it became an employee-owned company in 1996.
In recent years, the store has expanded to include locations in
Boone, Waynesville, Hendersonville and Asheville, N.C. and Greenville,
S.C. All stores are in buildings constructed between 1883 and 1945.
In Knoxville, Mast General will occupy a building constructed
in 1898 for McNulty Grocery and Dry Goods Co. More recently a White
Store occupied the space.
"We are thrilled with the building and its historic aspects
that we believe will offer our customers a glimpse of what downtown
Knoxville was like in the early 1900s," Cooper said. "The
wooden floors, pressed tin ceiling, and the expansive basement will
help to create a memorable shopping experience."
Knoxville City Council and the Knoxville Industrial Development
Board earlier this year approved 15 years of tax increment financing
to aid Mast in redevelopment of the downtown property.
"Using the difference between the property taxes collected
on what's now a vacant building and the assessment once improvements
are made is a good way to leverage private investments and enable
quality companies like Mast to redevelop a historic building,"
Mayor Haslam said.
"The sales tax that this downtown store will generate is
important because the City will retain a portion that's typically
designated for the state," the Mayor continued.
The Central Business Improvement District, which consists of downtown
property owners, also pledged financial support to the project.
"Mast General offers an experience that is unique, giving people
another reason to come downtown and see what all there is to do
and enjoy here," said Joe Petre, chairman of CBID. "The
momentum we are enjoying downtown is unprecedented and we look forward
to having Mast as a neighbor."
Cooper said the company looks forward to serving customers who
have trekked across the mountains to visit the stores in North Carolina.
"We know a large number of East Tennesseans visiting our stores
in Asheville, Hendersonville, and Waynesville over the years,"
he said. "We're glad that we will be able to better serve our
friends in a convenient location with lots of parking and in a building
that has a long retail heritage and a look that will reflect that